WREDA is wild about the Wellington region and we’ve spent the past year working to make it wildly famous. From global storytelling, tourism, student attraction, venue management, attracting and promoting events, supporting businesses, to developing key sectors - we’re passionate about this wonderful region we call home and want to make it an even better place to live, visit, work and do business in.

Read on for a summary of WREDA’s year across all our business units; Business Growth and Innovation, Creative HQ, Destination and Marketing, Events, and Venues Wellington as well as a link to our financials, auditor’s report and statement of service performance.

Some numbers to go wild about:

Number of businesses who received active WREDA support in the region
The number of events in Venues Wellington venues
Total annual visitor spend in Wellington
Value of new international and domestic conferences attracted
Number of internships created
Visits to WellingtonNZ.com
New ventures through Creative HQ
Number of cruise ship passengers and crew who enjoyed Wellington’s summer
The economic impact of major events
Record number of screen permits issued
Generated media coverage in NZ and Australia
World’s most liveable city (Deutsche Bank survey)
Peter Biggs | Chairman

Kia ora koutou, on behalf of the Board and Leadership Team I am pleased to present the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency (WREDA) Annual Report for the 2017/2018 Financial Year. Continue reading the full letter here

Watch Lance Walker's message

(to return to the report after viewing the message please click on top right cross)


On the job growing local businesses

In the past year WREDA helped 451 businesses with hands on active support. Across sectors such as high-value manufacturing, science, food and beverage, ICT, screen and other creative industries, the success of Wellington’s wildly innovative people and companies is one of our main objectives.

A few examples of the businesses we’ve supported

Intex Group - WREDA worked to connect Wairarapa construction supply company Intex Group to the expertise needed to expand its product range, which is expected to result in a new product that will be in line for further R&D funding support.

Times-7 – The Hutt Valley antenna company was looking for assistance with its sales efforts and WREDA was able to help with a sales coach. The result? A dramatic increase in sales leads and engagement at the company’s next overseas trade show.

2shakes – A Govtech start-up out of the 2016 R9 accelerator, 2Shakes was looking for R&D funding. WREDA helped the company access $140,000, which allowed it to offer its product to smaller New Zealand businesses through a freemium model.

Helping businesses far and wide

From pop-up business schools in Porirua to clinics in Kapiti, WREDA has been working hard to help small businesses outside of the Wellington CBD.

Co-working spaces have also been a focus, such as 3Mile in the Wairarapa. The brainchild of tech sector veteran Marie-Claire Andrews, 3Mile provides a physical base for entrepreneurs and remote workers.

The team helped facilitate access to $5.3m in R&D funding and capability vouchers, with 89 per cent of the businesses our Business Growth team worked closely with likely to recommend WREDA’s services.

3Mile co-working space
“I honestly love the work WREDA does and have found the support and insight over the years invaluable to my business. The key piece of value WREDA offers is the business growth managers; your advice, connections, and the events you jointly run… So, I will take a moment to personally thank you.”

- Angus Allan, Hello Digital

Seeing Gold

At this year’s Wellington Gold Awards, the team was thrilled to see more than half of all finalists, and nearly all category winners, were businesses, organisations or events supported by either WREDA or Creative HQ.

Attracting jobs to the region

WREDA helped international e-commerce platform Shopify decide to base its first Remote Hub in Oceania in Wellington. The company is looking to hire more than 100 staff across the Wellington region who will work from home. Wellington’s compact nature and tech-friendly industries were key factors in Shopify’s decision.

"We visited eight different cities in Australia and New Zealand, and all the things we were looking for in a city to set-up a Shopify team were almost palpable within a couple of hours. [WREDA] should be super proud of how you presented Wellington so well and with so little prep time."

- Marcie Murray | Shopify Director Global Support

Students making the smart choice in Wellington

International students are a valuable part of Wellington, contributing to the economy and creating value into the future as they become the leaders of tomorrow.

Over the past year we’ve helped promote the region via marketing activity, events, our Wellington Student Excellence Awards and agent training as a great place to study everything from nanotechnology, creative arts to accounting.

4 per cent rise in international student numbers bringing $10.7m of additional value to the region

1 million online engagements from Study Wellington marketing campaigns

8,504 international students chose Wellington

Behind the scenes of Screen

Wellington’s screen industry is already wildly famous, both within New Zealand and across the globe. It helps flood the region with talent, innovative thinking and creates a pipeline of work for a sprawling network of supporting businesses. Some of last year’s highlights included upcoming blockbuster Mortal Engines, a big budget Sony PlayStation commercial and homegrown comedy Wellington Paranormal.

515 film permits issued, a record number

$93.2m in production value to the region

“Filming in Wellington would have to be one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my career. The city welcomes every production with open arms, and the support that Screen Wellington provides is fantastic to say the least. Like so many others, I moved my family and business here, where the film industry is recognised as part of the community and fabric of the city. I’m always proud to say I live and work in Wellington.”

- Jaren Connon | Independent Production and Location Manager (Mortal Engines, Ghost in the Shell, The Hobbit trilogy)

Talking up tech at Techweek Wellington

What’s more Wellington than tech, creativity and events where ideas are freely exchanged… with a side of coffee or craft beer for good measure?

The Wellington chapter of the national Techweek innovation festival, now in its second year, was headlined by the Creative Realities event, which explored how new technologies such as AI, blockchain and AR/VR can create a better future. WREDA promoted and project managed Techweek Wellington.

93 events in Wellington

41 Wellington only events

40 organisations that took part in leading events

Startup success

Wellington is full of talented entrepreneurs and Creative HQ (a wholly-owned subsidiary of WREDA) had another fantastic year supporting their ventures.

31 new ventures through incubation programme

ventures graduated from incubation programme to investable companies

$74.9m aggregate valuation of ventures in Creative HQ’s portfolio (where Creative HQ maintains a shareholding)

3040 registered members of the popular community programme Startup Garage

During the year Creative HQ finished the second instalment of the highly successful Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator.

Lightning Lab GovTech

Created based on the learnings of the previous R9 Accelerator series, Creative HQ is driving New Zealand’s global leadership position in GovTech through this new accelerator programme, which kicked off in August. The renewed programme has attracted Creative HQ’s largest cohort ever with participants from local, central and international governments.

New thinking in big business

Over the last 12 months Creative HQ worked with startups, corporates, government agencies and academia to structure and streamline their innovation initiatives - this year it welcomed Janssen New Zealand, the Ministry of Education, Sealord, Pharmac, Beca, Waste Management, Regional Facilities Auckland and Social Investment Agency.

Diversity is good business

Creative HQ actively encourages the formation of multicultural groups in its programmes. Over the last year it has attracted founders into incubation programmes from countries including: Kazakhstan, Latvia, Norway, China, South Africa, USA, Iran, UK, Israel, and Germany - all choosing New Zealand as the place to start up their groundbreaking ventures.

Female founders make up approximately 42% of new ventures and organisations such as KYT, Collaborate and Sharesies have all created phenomenal business success stories with female founders at the helm.

“The access to some of New Zealand’s top business coaches has been invaluable – we’ve learnt so much during our time in the CHQ incubation programme”

- Collaborate

Destination & Marketing

It was a summer to remember in Wellington, and one that cemented one of the strongest tourism seasons in the region’s history.

in annual visitor spend - a new record
poured into the economy by cruise
Wellington voted 1 of Australasia’s top 5 cruise destinations (Cruise Critic)
commercial guest nights
growth in Australia visitor spend
growth in NZ visitor spend

The business of tourism

We launched a new partnership dubbed Team Wellington between Wellington’s largest tourism organisations. This will see a $2.5million funding boost to grow tourism to the region over the next five years.

Funds from the partnership between WREDA, Te Papa, Kiwirail, Weta Studio Tours and Wellington International Airport will be used to grow the number of visitors from China and South-East Asia along with Wellington’s traditional markets of Australia, USA, and the United Kingdom.

Our work with regional partners to grow tourism in their areas continued, overseeing the Regional Trails Project – which will promote the region’s network of trails promoted under one banner - and KapitiCoastNZ.com. And there are other exciting new initiatives on the horizon such as the Porirua Adventure Park and Wairarapa Dark Sky initiatives.

2744 travel agents trained

439 agent famils

Pumping New Zealand’s creative heart

We’ve lured students from Vietnam with a V-pop style video, celebrated Wellington’s cultural milestones by giving grants to improve access to events, promoted Wellington’s diversity in visitor attraction campaigns, promoted the best the wider region has to offer to Aussie tourists with mini campaigns promoting Martinborough, Eastborne to Pencarrow and Kapiti Island, created a new visitor attraction website for KapitiCoastNZ, significantly upweighted our promotional support for the events sector via Live in WLG, supported the local hospitality and retail sectors via digital content and our Advent campaign, got the word out about being the world’s most liveable city, supported Te Papa to boost visitation to new exhibitions and profiled the emerging new Influencers of the region’s business sector.

35m cumulative reach of our 18 marketing campaigns

2.7m visits to WellingtonNZ.com

259,000 followers across our social media channels, up 19% on last year.

4.5m views of our 25 marketing videos

Check out a mash-up of some of our campaigns from the past year here:

Do Wellington Your Way

Wellington’s not your normal place to visit, so our tourism marketing shouldn’t follow the standard destination marketing formula. For our winter campaign, ‘Do Wellington Your Way’, we wanted to make a statement on what Wellington’s really about. Something that gets into the heart of what makes Wellington distinct and a welcoming place to visit… for everyone.

The most liveable city… again!

For the second year running, Wellington was named the most liveable city in the world by Deutsche Bank. We put together a campaign to promote all that Wellington has to offer as a place to live and visit.

Making the news

Wellington is full of fascinating stories and WREDA has been instrumental in convincing journalists from across the world to write about them.

91 media hosted in Wellington

1259 visitor attraction stories in the Australasian media worth more than $10m

101 stories about local businesses and sectors

Sun shines brightly on Wellington

A highlight of the media programme was hosting Australian TV personality Sam Mac and the morning breakfast show Sunrise for three days of live weather crosses. The result of a partnership between WREDA, Accor Hotels and Wellington Airport, each day between five-seven segments were streamed live to millions of Australians. The coverage resulted in a total reach of 8.3m and advertising value of AUD$3.4m.

Sam Mac in Wellington

Sam Mac learns about Maori culture on Waitangi Day

Supercharging Wellington’s events

Wellington is known for its vibrant events calendar and this year didn’t disappoint, from the NZ Festival, the delightful Jim Henson Restrospectable, the sold-out All Whites World Cup qualifier to the annual spectacular that is the World of WearableArt show.

“It takes a great city to make an outstanding WOW. Our year on year partnership with WREDA is central to helping Wellington shine for our delighted WOW fans. The excitement starts on the stage and spreads across the city for a joyous three weeks.”- Gisella Carr, Chief Executive WOW

Our Business Events Wellington team also had a stellar year, luring more large conferences to Wellington than ever before. Wellington now plays a significant role in the business events market, second only to Auckland in market share at 20 per cent, resulting in excess of 700,000 business delegate days per year.

Estimated economic impact of out-of-region visitors to WREDA-supported major events
Value of business events secured by WREDA
Large business events secured, up 45% YOY

A white out at Westpac Stadium

On 11 November Wellington hosted another attempt by the All Whites to qualify for the football World Cup. Unfortunately, they failed to beat Peru but the match was a wild success for Wellington.

35,100 fans (additional seating added)

34% of attendees from outside the region

$6.2m injected into the economy

70 accredited media in attendance

Huge Homegrown success

Wellington’s all-Kiwi music festival Homegrown has gone from strength to strength, with the 2018 event breaking records.

21,000 record attendance

$7.6m economic impact

Where it all connects

It was a stellar year for the city’s civic venues, with sold-out shows and a multitude of conference events. The St James Theatre closed in May for scheduled strengthening work and we look forward to its reopening.

Whilst we’re doing well, we continue to miss out on events by not having appropriately sized venues for large concerts, sporting events and conferences. A WREDA-commissioned report by sport and entertainment company Gemba revealed the amount of events and live shows in the capital could double with the construction of a new 12,000-seat arena and a new conference centre will allow us to remain competitive with other Australasian cities in the lucrative business events market.

334 performance events in our venues

260 business events in our venues

423,369 audience numbers

$68m in out-of-region visitor spend

26,700 out-of-region conference visitors

Sold out performances: Lorde, Jimmy Carr, Macklemore, Imagine Dragons, The Killers, The Jim Henson Retrospectacle

Imagine Dragons - In May 2018, Las Vegas rockers Imagine Dragons brought their Evolve World Tour to Australasia, and with it, the third largest music event hosted at TSB Arena - second only to Ed Sheeran and Katy Perry. What’s more, an impressive 45 per cent of attendees who flocked to the arena were from out of Wellington.

Celebrate Wellington - It’s a big year in Wellington - 2018 marks 20 years since Te Papa opened, the 30th year of the World of WearableArt, Visa Wellington On a Plate’s 10th anniversary, 65 years since the Royal NZ Ballet was formed and 125 years since legislation was passed in Wellington giving women the vote. With this in mind, WREDA and Wellington City Council are helping thousands of locals enjoy the many cultural events the capital has on offer through ‘Celebrate Wellington’ grants. Targeted at Wellingtonians who struggle to connect with arts and culture, due to cost or access challenges, Celebrate Wellington has already helped more than 1,500 people across the region via small grants, as well as indirect support through special equipment and resources to further increase accessibility.

Live in WLG

A new events marketing campaign involving a fortnightly events eNewsletter, four seasonal event videos, four street poster campaigns, social media and a media partnership with Stuff went from strength to strength. Since launching Live in WLG, it has reached an audience of more than 4.7 million, reinforcing Wellington’s reputation as the cultural capital.

Your Wellington

There are thousands of people helping us make Wellington wildly famous by sharing their love of the region via #sharemeWLG

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